Four Illini showcased their skills at Illinois’ Pro Day on Wednesday. Wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, offensive lineman Kendrick Green, linebacker Milo Eifler and cornerback Nate Hobbs had been training for this chance since the season ended in December.
Imatorbhebhe put up impressive numbers, including what would have been a NFL combine record with a 46.5” vertical. He’s been locked in since the season ended and training at EXOS in Phoenix. The opportunity to perform in front of NFL scouts is something that Imatorbhebhe said he has been waiting for.
“I feel like I’m a dominant player and I feel like I make plays when the ball is in my hands. I’m somebody who’s going to do everything he can to take advantage of every opportunity that’s given to him,” Imatorbhebhe said. “I feel like that’s something that I did at Illinois. I wasn’t leading the nation in receptions or catches or targets or whatever, but for the most part, when the ball did come my way I made a play. I feel like that’s something that I can say confidently that I’m somebody who takes advantage of the opportunities that are presented to him.”
I’d say it was a good day ♂️ pic.twitter.com/QCUKx2n1tm— Josh Imatorbhebhe (@JoshBhebhe) March 17, 2021
Green, who was training in McKinney, Texas, felt comfortable heading into Pro Day after mentioning the feedback he had received. He thinks he is in a good position for this draft, but still has to go out and prove it.
“I always play with a chip on my shoulder,” Green said. “I always feel like there’s somebody on TV or somebody in the stands who have never watched me play before. If they’re watching me, I want to have a good first impression. First impressions are everything.”
Hobbs has already made an impression, as this will be his second Pro Day after performing in Nashville last week. However, he is still striving for improvement.
“I feel pretty good about my performance, but I do know I can do better. I know I can do better. I know in my heart and soul. I’ve been training really hard, just like the rest of these guys, but it does give me confidence in knowing I put up those numbers and that’s not even my best,” Hobbs said about his first Pro Day experience.
On Wednesday, Hobbs had an unofficial 4.38-4.41 40-yard dash and a broad jump of 11’3”.
With the NFL Draft quickly approaching and COVID-19 protocols altering the way this process takes place, these Illini have had to adapt. They’re working everyday, and often, they’re spending their free time alone.
“I’ve been working out for the past two months,’ Eifler said. “It’s been a grind, six days a week, two a days, just getting after it, trying to eat the right thing, meal prep and everything like that.’
He posted a 4.54 40-yard dash and 10’6” broad jump at Illinois’ Pro Day.
Blessed pic.twitter.com/6hib13IlhE— Milo (@_miloeifler) March 17, 2021
Despite this different year, they all acknowledged how surreal the whole process has been, being so close to reaching the dream of playing at the next level.
But a lot is still unknown. Imatorbhebhe, who transferred to Illinois from the University of Southern California, knows much of his future is out of his hands.
“It’s not like college where you kind of are in control, when you’re getting recruited or scouted by teams and you can control a little bit of your destiny in terms of the team you want to play for,” Imatorbhebhe said. “Now, all I can control is the work. Whoever notices it and wants to pick me up, that’s completely up to them. Just the fact that I don’t have as much control as I’ve had in the past, it’s a little nerve wrecking, but if anything, it makes me double down and focus on the things that I can control and honestly really just leave the rest in God’s hands.”